May 15, 2020
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Coordinator
Since 1956, the League of American Bicyclists has designated May as National Bike Month! Now I’m no ‘cyc’ologist, but even I can tell you that there are plenty of benefits to biking, whether you are looking to be more active, save the environment, or even just save a bit of money on gas. As many as 40% of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles long, making biking not only fun, but a practical way to get to school, work and even the zoo!
In October of 2016, the Akron Zoo unveiled our bike shelter, one year after the City of Akron and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition completed a connector trail from the Towpath to the zoo. The trail, which is about one mile in length, is marked with signage and animal prints and ends at our shelter, which includes lockers, a bike fix-it station, an air pump and tools to do minor bike repairs. Directly adjacent to our bike shelter is a Metro Bus stop, allowing guests to ride their bike to the zoo and then use the Metro Bus to return home if they choose, or vice versa!
Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are unable to visit the zoo or make use of our bike shelter. Many of us are experiencing increased stress and just wish there was something we could control. Well, I am happy to tell you that biking still offers benefits for us from home and allows us to build a symbiotic relationship with the environment, even if we are just taking a spin around the block!
Symbiosis is a close relationship between two species, which has a positive outcome for one species and may have a positive, negative or neutral outcome for the other. Mutualism is one of these three types of symbiotic relationships in which both species benefit. Honeybees and flowering plants, for example, have a mutual symbiotic relationship, especially at the Akron Zoo! During spring and summer, our colony of honeybees is able to fly about the park, visiting many species of flowering plants and collecting pollen. The bees use the pollen to make the honey that will last them through the winter, and the flowers are pollinated by the bees’ journey - a mutually beneficial relationship!
Much in the same way, both people and the environment form a mutually symbiotic relationship in biking. Biking is clinically proven to reduce stress, as well as increase your energy level and lower your risk of depression, heart disease or diabetes. Additionally, driving as little as 10 percent less (or 1,350 miles less per person) would remove 110 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, and fewer cars on the road cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, saves green space from development into parking lots and roads, and reduces your ecological footprint! This means biking improves the planet’s health and yours at the same time! With all of these mutual benefits, who wouldn’t want to be in this relationship?!
So start biking! Even though you cannot visit us currently, you can still enjoy and appreciate nature around you while staying healthy (both mentally and physically). Maybe it will start a bike chain reaction in our community! By taking small steps to improve our environment, you can help us be the change for species around the world!